Webwatch: iGameMom, Games for Learning

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Happy Mother’s Day to our readers and to my terrific Literacy Beat co-bloggers!

Rose

By TDWolsey

Have you spent time searching the App Store for just the right learning game only to download an app and find it was not quite what you imagined? One of my favorite new sites is iGameMom where the contributors review learning apps for mobile devices they believe are worthy for children of different ages. Finding the right learning game is easy on iGameMom. The site is well-organized with reviews grouped by age and subject area. Because this blog focuses on literacy, this post highlights that section of iGameMom. However, there are many cool apps in other subject areas to check out.

Within the literacy category, you can locate apps for developing letter recognition and related skills, spelling, reading, and language. Recently, iGameMom reviewed Expand Vocabulary with Word Art, a game that pairs humorous artwork (as you know, Literacy Beat often features topics related to visual literacy, so this app was a great find!) with vocabulary learning in a game environment.  Apps reviewed on iGameMom can also be located by the price including those that are free. If you download an app, you may want to use the link provided on the site because it helps to support the site without any cost to you for doing so.

iGameMom

iGameMom: Games for Learning

In addition, there are several resources from the web linked on iGameMom that you may find useful. A list of free apps for iPad that iGameMom recommends are grouped by topic or skill to be developed.  The literacy-related lists include vocabulary development, handwriting (yep, handwriting—still an art in our digital age!), storytelling, grammar and more.

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Infographic: Humanizing the Online Class

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Many posts on Literacy Beat relate to visual literacies in digital environments, and this week I wanted to share with you an infographic (thanks to our LiteracyBeat friend, Peggy Semingson) that describes ways to humanize the online class or course. Email and threaded discussion communications can seem cold and dry at times. But teaching is an art of the heart and soul as much as it is about the stuff of any content.  I think you are going to like this infographic! Also, be sure to check out the presentation mode to break down the elements of the infographic. The presentation mode can be activated in the top, right of your browser.

Humanize

PiktoChart – Click to open the infographic.

Peggy Semingson added: “Infographic was created by Michelle Pacanksy-Brock at Cal State Univ., Channel Islands (Instructional Designer). Her blog/website is here: http://www.teachingwithoutwalls.com/. I actually also came across her interactive syllabus example in the Online Learning Consortium class on The Interactive Syllabus.” Read more from teachingwithoutwalls here

Read more on Literacy Beat about Infographics.

Cool Tools from the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy

A post by Jill Castek

In July 2014, I was so inspired by the presenters and participants who attended the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy (also see the Institute Wikispace at https://dliuri2014.wikispaces.com/).  This six-day institute held at the University of Rhode Island focused on how literacy is changing as a result of emerging media and technologies.  It offered participants an exciting and hands-on experience in which to discuss and explore new approaches to teaching literacy in today’s digital age. Presenters introduced a wide array of technology tools that can be used to create digital products, critique media, and curate online resources in engaging and efficient ways.  I’ve spent the last several months since the institute exploring all the tools, techniques, and possibilities.  This post focuses on just a few of these  resources:

Vialogues: https://vScreen Shot 2015-02-13 at 4.04.47 PMialogues.com/ is a tool that can be used to spark meaningful conversations with students around videos you post to the platform. The discussions allow for a time-stamped, annotation-like discussion. Online interactions can refer specifically to exact parts of the video using time stamps. To scaffold the discussion, you can add comments, surveys and open-ended questions for your students that encourage students to critically analyze video texts.

Mozilla Popcorn Maker https://popcorn.webmaker.org/en-UScreen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.21.39 PMS/editor/ is another tool for analyzing video (its surprisingly easy to use).  Just take a video from YouTube and students can add their own commentary using pop-up boxes.  Students can use it to critique the messages in commercials, music videos, or public service announcements.  Use it in conjunction with, or in preparation for, a face-to-face dialogue to provide an avenue for students to share multiple points of view.

Blendspace https://www.blendspace.com/ creates easy to use and beautiful to look at collections of inline resources (including images, videos, Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.23.17 PMwebsites).  Just drag and drop items into your Blendspace to curate an entire educational experience for your students.  Optional features allow you to see which students have viewed the resources you posted. Quiz questions can be embedded throughout to help students track their progress through the content.  Visit the Blendspace site and explore the different ways teachers are using this innovative resource to enhance educational experiences for students.

Symbaloo http://www.symbaloo.com/ is a curation tool that is organized like a grid.  EacScreen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.29.12 PMh square contains an image and a link to a website.  Many educators have used Symbaloo to organize sites that students regularly visit so they are accessible all in one place. Others have used it to collect resources for students to explore on a given topic.  Collections are easy to share and are engaging to look at.  Your students will make connections easily to the visual format.  This video will introduce the benefits of its use in the classroom.

2015 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy Sign-Ups

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.48.01 PMAttending the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy was one of the most  rewarding experiences of my professional career.  If you’d like to attend the 2015 institute, mark your calendar for July 26 – July, 31, 2015 and visit the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island website to learn more http://mediaeducationlab.com/summer-institute-digital-literacy.

If you have used any of these resources in your classroom, leave us a comment.  We’d love to hear from you (and we’ll benefit from your experiences, too).

Curating Videos on the Web for Children

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Sometimes, searching for and selecting the best content online can take as much time as actually watching, reading, or engaging with the content itself. This is especially true for parents and teachers who often make the selections for children.  This is so for text and image-based digital content but also for video.  Youtube EDU provides some guidance for teachers and parents.  In this LiteracyBeat post, I will tell you a little bit about a new service that curates video content from a variety of sources and for specific audiences: Pluto TV

Where YouTube EDU uses an electronic discovery system to identify content, Pluto TV employs about 15 human beings who search for and curate videos. For parents, teachers, and children, the curation process is particularly important because each of the children’s channels (currently channels 901-906, click the “Channel Lineup” button on the top left) on Pluto are aimed at a different demographic, a very important feature that differs from television channels that may air content for preschool children in the morning and elementary-age children in the afternoon. Moreover, the curated content filters out shows on popular channels that don’t always deliver the educational or useful content parents expect. There is also a Kid’s Mode with a parent lock feature.  Shows can be saved for future viewing or a reminder sent that a show is about to air.

Pluto Screencap

Pluto TV screenshot – Kid’s Channel Lineup

The interface is a familiar one that looks like the channel line-up on your television service provider.  Each show plays at a specific time and it is possible to save a show or set up a reminder to watch it later. Of course, Pluto is well-designed to work on multiple devices and there is an app to improve the experience, as well.  Learn more about Pluto here.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World: A themed issue from Kappan

Phi Delta Kappan has just published a themed issue on “Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World” (November, 2014, volume 96, No. 3). For a short time period, you may view and download all of the articles online, for free.

http://pdk.sagepub.com/content/current

magazine cover shows child reading on a tablet

Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World

As literacy and technology expert Mike McKenna states in the opening to his article,

“Technology integration into language arts instruction has been slow and tentative, even as information technologies have evolved with frightening speed. Today’s teachers need to be aware of several extant and unchanging realities: Technology is now indispensable to literacy development; reading with technology requires new skills and strategies; technology can support struggling students; technology can transform writing; technology offers a means of motivating students; and waiting for research is a losing strategy.”

We have a lot to learn, a lot to accomplish, and we need to pick up the pace! I found this issue both practically valuable and thought provoking.

Please go to the Kappan website http://pdk.sagepub.com/ and search for the current November 2014 issue, or click on  http://pdk.sagepub.com/content/current to go directly to the table of contents. I’ve listed the table of contents below (note that Jill has a piece on online inquiry and I have a piece on eText and eBooks). Enjoy!

Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World – Table of Contents

Michael C. McKenna, Literacy instruction in the brave new world of technology

Joan Richardson, Maryanne Wolf: Balance technology and deep reading to create biliterate children

Christopher Harris, Fact or fiction? Libraries can thrive in the Digital Age

Samina Hadi-Tabassum, Can computers make the grade in writing exams?

Melody Zoch, Brooke Langston-DeMott, and Melissa Adams-Budde, Creating digital authors

Bridget Dalton, E-text and e-books are changing literacy landscape

Diane Carver Sekeres, Julie Coiro, Jill Castek, and Lizabeth A. Guzniczak. Wondering + online inquiry = learning

Gail Lynn Goldberg, One thousand words, plus a few more, is just right

Kristin Conradi, Tapping technology’s potential to motivate readers

Multimedia digital books: Forward Thinking

Teaching the Language Arts: Forward Thinking in Today’s Classrooms by Elizabeth Dobler, Denise Johnson and Thomas DeVere Wolsey. Published by Holcomb Hathaway, ebook available via Inkling platform.

forward thinking

  When I received a copy of Forward Thinking I was immediately struck by the calibre of the authors (Elizabeth Dobler, Denise Johnson and our own Literacy Beat blogger De Vere Wolsey). In turn, each author is well respected within the literacy community for situating their research in classrooms and making strong research-to-practice connections. The six modes of the Language Arts- reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and visually representing provide the organisational framework of this etext. However, it is the enhanced etext publishing format which I want to particularly draw attention to in this post.

A number of distinctive features encourage active learning environments by combining traditional and electronic content. These features allow the reader to transact with the text in multiple ways through media elements such as, video, graphics, and audio which are embedded in the etext. Readers can watch lessons being taught in real classrooms; have instant access to multiple resource ideas that are shared through video clips (e.g. writing workshop); listen to podcasts of teachers and students; view graphics of work samples and follow hyperlinks to websites. In addition, links between research and practice are featured in interviews with scholars like Don Leu, Dorothy Strickland and Nell Duke. Finally, the etext incorporates a note sharing feature which could be used to create pathways to learning through listening, reading and viewing within a community of learners.

The authors of Forward Thinking note that the book models ways in which electronic resources can be integrated with and used to augment traditional classroom instruction. Forward Thinking  allows us  envision the possibilities when technology is integrated in meaningful ways to enhance literacy and learning in the 21st century classroom.

Mom’s Recipe Box, Old Lesson Plan Folders, and My iPad

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

In an old file box for 4X6 index cards, my Mom kept favorite family recipes. Some of these cannot be found online because they were traded among her friends and relatives long before Pinterest or Facebook made it possible to share a recipe link online.  I wanted to share copies of these with my brother and sisters, but making copies on paper seemed the wrong way to go.  By layering applications, I found I could recreate those 4X6 index cards, make many of them searchable, and share them with family and friends.  I used Evernote and Scanner Pro along with tags that corresponded with Mom’s original index card system (each letter represented a category of recipe, such as “cookies” and I could also add tags for recipes by season or author). Using these apps was far more efficient than using the traditional flatbed scanner in this instance.

Mom's recipe box

Mom’s recipe box

There are many tools for archiving and sharing recipes (click here for one example)  from file boxes, but I also wanted to archive and share the many file  folders full of lesson plans and resources, such as student work samples, that I collected over the years. The same tools I used to store and share Mom’s recipe box worked well here. My manila file folders full of news clippings, handwritten notes, typed lesson plans, and student work samples could easily be converted to a notebook in Evernote. I added tags that roughly matched the file folder label and additional tags for “student work sample” or “lesson plan.”

Eye poem lesson plan

News Clipping

News Clipping via Scanner Pro and Evernote

Some of the items in the folders would fit well in my flatbed scanner with a multisheet feeder. But notes and news clippings might not. Some of the pages were so old I thought they might jam the sheet feeder. My iPad solved this problem along with a scanner app (I used Scanner Pro by Readdle, but there are others). The scanner app uses the camera in the iPad or iPhone to create a scan of whatever paper you have and save it in image format (such as .jpg) or as a PDF file.  I usually choose the PDF format.

Scanner Pro can be easily linked to Evernote so that scans are automatically sent to Evernote.  In Evernote, you can annotate the file with new notes, tag the note, and share the note or the notebook with others. Be sure you consider copyright and fair use guidelines, of course, when sharing the work of others.

An eye  poem by Mario (Mariachi)

An eye poem by Mario (Mariachi)

Evernote has a free and a paid or premium version. The free version will work for many teachers, but if you want to upload many files, a paid version may be a better option; fortunately, the paid versions are reasonably priced. I paid $2.99 for Scanner Pro, an investment well worth the price. Scanner Pro allows me to sync automatically to Evernote and other applications. With it, I can adjust borders easily on the rare occasions when the software doesn’t quite capture the edges of whatever sized document I am scanning.

Resources:

Evernote Also be sure to check out Bernadette’s post, here.

Scanner Pro by Readdle

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